Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Potty Training: It's Not You, It's Them

Don't worry, this isn't your typical potty training tips post. You know me better than that. You may be at your wits end with potty training and you may want to know what you can do to just get your kid to use the damn potty already. Well, I can answer that: nothing. That's right, potty training really has nothing to do with you or me. My oldest son was potty trained at just over two. People were impressed. "Wow, how did you do that?" they would say. While I would love to bask in potty training guru glory, the truth is I didn't do anything. Sure, I bought the cute and oh so much fun to clean mini toilet, traveling potty seat, and Thomas the Tank Engine under pants. Sure, I had sticker charts and potty songs and cheerios for aiming. I asked, "Do you have to go potty?" every 3.47 seconds. None of those things are the reason my first son was potty trained at two. He was potty trained at two because that's when he happened to be ready. It was his personality. He hated being wet and as soon as I put him in pull ups he would hold it until he was on the potty. As soon as I put him in under pants he peed in them twice, got really upset about his wet pants, and we were done with diapers. I take no credit.

Fast forward four years. My youngest son just turned three. His response to "Do you have to go potty?" is always a resounding, "No!" I bought the cool and oh so fun to clean Thomas the Tank Engine potty that actually plays the theme song when used. I have potty books and songs. We have watched potty training YouTube videos. Yes, this is a thing. Apparently there's a YouTube instructional video for everything these days. I bought PAW Patrol under pants and I put an enormous sticker chart in the bathroom. I have bribed with chocolate, toys, a pony. He doesn't care. I thought maybe I would just put him in under pants. He would hate having an accident so much that he would be potty trained from that day forward. I mean, what works for one kid will automatically work for another, right? Riiigght. I don't want to get graphic but he had an accident of both varieties in his underpants and continued playing like nothing at all was amiss. Not only did my plan fail miserably, but I also had to argue with my six year old about whether or not it was against the law to throw soiled under pants in the garbage. Trust me, the risk of jail time was well worth not cleaning that underwear.

So, how's potty training going? It is very one step forward two steps back. Sometimes he'll sit on the potty and sometimes he'll run from it screaming like I am asking him to sit on broken glass. Whatever. It will happen when he's good and ready and it won't happen when I'm ready. I am suddenly channeling those Luvs commercials that show the difference between a mom's approach to he first and second kid. Here's my own personal Luvs commercial:

First kid: Gasp! "He has to get potty trained! What will the other moms think! Bring on the underwear! Put him on the potty every twenty minutes! Potty training everything!"

Second kid: "Meh, it'll happen."

Which is not to say I have not tried the same tricks with both kids, because trust me I have. So, yeah, if your kid is the Mark Zuckerberg of potty training, feel free to brag but we all know your kid was just ready early. Likewise, if your four year old thinks the toilet is a modern day torture chamber and he's rockin those pull ups while you are bombarded with stories of how your third cousin's ex boyfriend's sister's niece's kid mastered elimination communication at four months and have you tried X, Y, or Z take heart. It's not you. Your kid may not be ready or he or she might be too busy mastering something else to worry about a mundane task like using the toilet. I promise, it's not you, it's them. As an aside, please don't ask a potty training parent if they've tried (insert potty training trick here). Chances are they have. Potty training is not really a milestone and it has nothing to do with your child's intelligence. It'll happen.

Hey, no joke, while I was writing this post my three year old just made a deposit in the potty. The only thing I hadn't tried: Internet shaming! And I though I didn't hold the secret to successful potty training.....